Monday, September 19, 2005


Movie Partnerships: Directors & Actors

Once in a while, for whatever reason, a director and an actor will work so well together, before long, they have amassed a body of work with each other which defines each of them. (The films of Frank Capra & James Stewart; John Ford & John Wayne; Alfred Hitchcock & Grace Kelly, and even Steven Spielberg & Tom Hanks come to mind.) But here are three examples I have followed closely. In each case, it seems as if both people are part of the same cinematic vision, an true extension of each other, one behind and one in front of the camera.:

Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro: Scorsese may have started his career working with Harvey Keitel, and as of late been making films with Leonardo DiCaprio, but the movies from which his legend is born are those he collaborated on with Robert DeNiro. With Scorsese directing and DeNiro acting, the two have made eight films together: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino. (Last year, they both lent their voices to the Mafia-as-fish animated comedy Shark Tale, bringing the total number of films together to nine.)

John Carpenter & Kurt Russell: While it's true that Carpenter directed the films that made him a legend in the horror genre without Russell (Halloween and The Fog), the films the two have made together (starting with the quintessential Elvis biopic, simply entitled Elvis) seem like a buddy directing a buddy. For Carpenter, Russell is the cowboy in the westerns he has always longed to, but never gets to, make. Carpenter's fans may expect horror and fantasy from him, but there is no mistaking the western undertones of the Carpenter/Russell collaborations: Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, and Escape From LA. It's been nearly a decade though since their last effort together. It's time for another!

Tim Burton & Johnny Depp: Never before has a director had such a doppleganger on screen or a persona so fully realized. Nearly 50 percent of all Burton features star Johnny Depp, and with reason. Depp is not only willing, but able, to portray the loners with whom Burton identifies. The two have made five films together, to date -- two this year alone! Their collaborations include: Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride. No doubt they will work together again before long.

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